Embattled McCarthy Capitulates, Offers 'Compromise' in Exchange for Speakership Votes

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Whether or not House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy thought he was a shoo-in to become Speaker when the Republicans regained the majority in the 2022 midterm elections is now moot. The embattled Californian is presently engaged in the most important battle of his political career — and he just blinked.


As I reported in early December as the GOP circular firing squad continued to rage, McCarthy sided with 13 conservative Republicans who vowed to kill proposed legislation from all Senate Republicans who voted in favor of Biden’s 4,155-page, $1.7 trillion omnibus bill, which was negotiated with Democrats before a new Republican majority could take control of the House. Why? McCarthy warned in a tweet:

When I’m Speaker, their bills will be dead on arrival in the House if this nearly $2T monstrosity is allowed to move forward over our objections and the will of the American people.

Nonetheless, the monstrosity passed on December 20 — with the support of nine House Republicans.

While the Republicans’ internecine war continues, McCarthy continues to scramble for the 218 votes necessary to secure the gavel when the 118th Congress convenes on January 3.

According to a report from CNN, McCarthy in a series of private meetings this week pledged to a number of House Republicans that he would reduce the required number of votes to call a floor vote to oust a sitting House Speaker, in his latest effort to win over critics while maintaining support he has already garnered from elsewhere in the party.

Incidentally, has it ever occurred to you how much more successful the Republican Party would be if it fought as hard against the Democrat Party as it fights against itself?  Yeah, me too. Thing is, we ain’t seen nuttin’ yet — with the 2024 GOP primary season promising to be a no-holds-barred bloodbath, but I digress.


Under current House rules, a majority of lawmakers in the majority party is required to call for a floor vote to vacate the Speaker’s chair. However, McCarthy is offering to lower that threshold significantly, giving critics a way to oust him from the leadership position if they disapprove of his performance. While the Republican Leader has yet to offer a hard number to change the threshold, it could be as low as five lawmakers, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

Interesting, isn’t it? Given that McCarthy is already on thin ice with multiple House Republicans, he’s willing to put himself into an even more precarious position in return for the honor of finally ripping the gavel from Nancy Pelosi’s defiant bony hand.

While some battleground Republicans have made their loyalties clear, including more than a dozen GOP lawmakers who won their races in states that Biden won in 2020, at least five GOP members have publicly said they won’t back McCarthy’s bid — and he can’t afford to lose more than four.

In a letter released on Thursday, as tweeted by Politico congressional reported Olivia Beavers:

More than a dozen House Republicans who won in battleground/districts won by Biden in 2020 issued a letter today to colleagues saying they are supporting McCarthy and will not support a “consensus candidate.”

Fair enough. But what happens if (when) push comes to shove?


And the song remains the same. But, hey — did we really expect anything more from the circular firing squad?

The Bottom Line

For argument’s sake, let’s assume McCarthy does become the next Speaker of the House. And if he does? His job is going to be anything but a walk in the park — and I mean just within the GOP Caucus.

The various factions of Republican lawmakers are not going to simply roll over and vote with the new Speaker, and that reality is going to get more and more contentious as the 2024 GOP presidential primary season kicks off in earnest. The nobody-but-Trump faction and the anybody-but-Trump faction are going butt heads, bigly — and for the entire country to see, of course.

Kevin McCarthy might find that his job as Speaker is not dissimilar to trying to herd a flock of angry geese.


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